A European company recently displayed its ambitions to develop a hypersonic drone capable of providing air freight. However, this device should be able to fly at a speed of Mach 15, or about 18,000 km / h.
Fast, autonomous and ecological
Various hypersonic aircraft projects are underway. Let us quote for example the apparatus of the American company Hermeus which should transport twenty people at Mach 5 within ten years. The giant Boeing is also working on an aircraft project capable of flying at Mach 5. However, the start-up Destinus based in Germany, Spain, France and Switzerland promises much better. As explained in an article in Challenges magazine on April 7, 2022, the company indeed has the ambition to develop a hypersonic aircraft capable of spinning at Mach 15 (18,000 km / h). In other words, the device could cover distances such as Paris-Tokyo in less than an hour and Paris-Sydney in just over two hours.
You should know that it is not an airplane, but a drone and that there is no question of transporting passengers. Indeed, Destinus wants to invest in a new potential market: hypersonic freight transport. A first prototype, the JungFrau, was born and made its first flight a few months ago near Munich (Germany). Its particularities? It benefits from entirely hydrogen-based propulsion and 100% autonomous operation.
Freight transport in the mesosphere
The start-up thinks it can reach Mach 5 by 2024, with the development of a new prototype. As the tests progress, Destinus would like to evolve these prototypes in terms of size and pushing power. In the long term, it is a question of obtaining a final drone called Hyperplane, capable of transporting no less than 100 tons of payload and thus revolutionizing air freight.
Destinus officials here had the idea of flying their device very high, at an altitude of between 50 and 90 km, that is to say in the mesosphere. The goal is to avoid aerodynamic disturbances as much as possible, in particular air friction due to density. These conditions should allow the device to carry what could almost be considered a rocket engine, hence the promises of eventually reaching a speed of Mach 15.
Moreover, if the impact of hydrogen is not zero, the engine will not emit CO2. The carbon footprint will therefore be much smaller than that of conventional aircraft which consume tons of kerosene. Destinus strongly believes in its potential as the project has been running smoothly since its inception. In any case, if the Hyperplane actually sees the light of day, it will overtake any other existing cargo aircraft.